Our team

A COLLECTION OF EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION, AND TALENT & SKILL
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BRIANNE TEEVAN-BONGIOVANNI

Founder & Head of School

brianneb@bambinicreativi.com

Ciao Amici and Families!  My name is Brianne Teevan-Bongiovanni- I am the Head of School and Founder of Bambini Creativi.  I have had an interesting journey prior to conceptualizing, designing, owning and operating an independent private preschool and elementary! From a young age I sought out opportunities in entrepreneurial endeavors and artistic expression, and always had a willingness to take on any of life’s challenges. My educational experience includes studying Fine Arts at the Kansas City Art Institute, and Early Childhood education at the Francis Institute and the University of Kansas. Let's just say I crafted the educational experience that I had wished for. I also auditioned and made it into Chicago’s famous Second City Conservatory where I graduated and studied acting and the art of improvisation. While living in Chicago, I was able to unify all of my talents to work my way up at Chicago Children’s Museum, where I eventually became the museum’s Early Learning Lead Educator and Exhibit/Program Designer. It was there where I first discovered the magnificent teaching/ learning paradigm of the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education. I implemented many aspects of the philosophy in my work at the museum and was fiercely intrigued to study and learn the philosophy first hand. My commitment and relentless spirit eventually moved me to Reggio Emilia where I landed the very rare opportunity to become an informal intern at Raggio di Luce (Ray of Light) atelier at the Loris Malaguzzi Centre in Reggio Emilia, Italy. My time there was too great to not share with the people and community I love in my hometown of Kansas City. I decided to move back to Kansas City to build the school of my dreams, Bambini Creativi. After just 5 years of operation, Bambini Creativi has been the most viewed Reggio Inspired school on Youtube by 165 countries in the world. I currently serve as a Reggio consultant and speaker in Kansas City, the US,  and abroad. I have had magnificent opportunities transforming learning environments and educational projects, raising funds to help create beautiful and intrinsically motivating classrooms for our under-served youth in our local and regional communities, and have had the pleasure of working with schools beyond our borders.

I consider myself principled, compassionate, and full of faith! It is hard not to be when you are fulfilling your vision and dream, and more importantly, when you have an incredible family and community who have shown their support to you every step of the way. Many people ask me how I keep going, and the answer to that is simple, it is my husband and love- Enrico Bongiovanni.  I often joke and say Enrico was a souvenir I picked up when studying in Italy, or that I specialize in Italian imports! The truth is more like, he is a gift in my life that I thank God for, a best friend, and a soulmate that exceeds time and place!

brianneb@bambinicreativi.com

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ALESSA ARENAS

Foreign Language & Visual Arts Specialist

alessa.bambinicreativi@gmail.com

Hola amigos! My name is Alessa Arenas and this will be my second year as the Foreign Language Specialist teaching Spanish to the amici (amigos) at Bambini Creativi. I am originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, where all our family is currently living.

After high school, I spent a year in London living with an Italian family, and that’s when I started loving all things about Italy. I looked after their kids, traveled, went to school, and got my English certificates from Cambridge University.

Then I moved back home and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Design. I also studied Italian, and my idea was to finish at University and start a Masters in Italy or Spain. Instead, I fell in love, got married, and moved to Kansas.

We spent three wonderful years in Kansas! My first son, Santiago, was born here, but we decided to return to Mexico, where my second child, Nicolas, was born. We enjoyed being close to our family and friends, but life was too hectic and the quality of time for our kids was not the ideal. My husband got a new job offer from the same company, and we decided to move back to Kansas for good.

It took us four years to get our green cards, a lot of stories, adventures, learning, and patience included. My visa did not allow me to work, so I spent most of my time assisting teachers in my kid's school in the Shawnee Mission School District.

One of the teachers was the one who sent me to Bambini Creativi! I am thankful to be part of such an amazing team, I learned so much during my first year and I look forward to keep learning, have fun with the amici and teach them a Spanish.

Hasta pronto!

Signora Alessa

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TAYLOR ROBERTSON

Early Years, Lead Teacher (Piccolo & Medio)

taylor.bambinicreativi@gmail.com

Ciao Bambini Families and Amici! I am beyond excited to start my fourth official year teaching at Bambini! It all started with a conversation with one of our fellow teachers about Bambini and what an amazing place this was. Leaving me extremely curious, I had to experience this for myself. Once walking in the front door, I decided that this was something special and I wanted to do whatever was needed to be a part of it! I shadowed, volunteered, and was more than eager to learn the ways of the Reggio philosophy. This led me to participate in Bambini's internship through the University of Kansas. From co-leading summer camp and opportunities as a substitute teacher, having a teaching position for my third year is a dream come true and I can't wait to learn, grow, and explore with the Medio class!

 

I was raised in Leawood, Kansas, with a second home in Keystone, Colorado. I was very blessed that my family enjoyed traveling and exploring. From our famous family road trips to our around the world adventures, we were introduced to many different cultures. While attending the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!), I studied Applied Behavioral Science with a concentration in Early Childhood Autism Intervention.  I have had experience working with children for over 15 years and cherished my time volunteering to work with kids with special rights (needs). Bringing the IB program to Bambini is such a gift, and I feel honored to be a part of it. Extremely excited to practice to "think globally, act locally" with our students. Working hard towards our certification as an International Baccalaureate school this year will be such a rewarding gift to see it all come together! 

 

Homelife consists of my husband, Nick and I enjoying the journey of parenthood with our son, Oren (3 1/2) and our daughter, Nora (2 1/2). Our house remains busy with four dogs running around, but family time remains precious to us. As a parent, I view my childhood experience with such a different lens. It will be a beautiful time when my kiddos are old enough to join me at Bambini. This place is one to share...it provides an environment and atmosphere for all of us to grow not only personally, but as educators, parents, and a community. However, most importantly, Bambini provides and allows these young minds the freedom to develop creatively and naturally. I am ecstatic to get into the Piccolo classroom and begin our unique journey together! 

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ALLISON RONNING

Transitional- Kindergarten , Lead Teacher (Grande)

Hi everyone! I am Ms. Alli and I am excited to be starting my fourth year here at Bambini Creativi! I will be teaching our Grande class this year and I am so excited to see all of you and to get this year started! We have all been through a lot this past year, as 2020  brought challenges that we have never before faced. But I know that I am starting this year with a whole new appreciation for our school and the amazing community that we have here! I am so excited to welcome your students back into our classroom and begin this journey of learning and growing together.

 

Just to tell you a little about myself I have grown up here in KC and am a lover of all Kansas City sports teams, especially Sporting KC! I have been married to Rich for seventeen years and we have three children, Grace, 19, Cole, 17, and Camryn, 15. Our family is experiencing the joy/pain of launching Grace into the world as she started this fall at Iowa State University! The other two are in high school and we are busy with all of their various activities! I am so grateful to Bambini Creativi and this community for all of your trust and support and I know this will be an amazing year because we are all in this together!

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ASHLEY TAFOYA-CANDIFF

Early Years, Lead Teacher (Piccolo) & Elementary Educational Assistant (Cercatori)

  Spending the start of my adult life in Portland, Oregon I have grown so passionate about community, relationships and the value in diverse people, cultures and relationships. I was born and raised on the West Coast, imagining myself venturing out into the city to become a musician or a nurse - completely unaware that what I thought would be a job to pass my time would change my entire career path. Starting my work at a lab center partnered with Portland State University and Inventing Remida Portland, I was immersed into the Reggio Emilia experience head first, astounded by its impacts, blessings and ability to influence the people both individually and as a community to respect, support and grow on levels I could have never imagined otherwise. This opportunity not only provided professional growth, but a personal development that aided me in finding my identity as a person in the larger community, helped me to find an inner peace and a creative, open mindset that has strengthened my life in countless ways. I journeyed to Kansas in 2017, where I have held several positions both inside and outside of the classroom - including administration and as a specialist in Early Childhood Professional Development - finally leading me to realize once again that the classroom is my home. Learning has been such a motivator of mine over the years and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity not only to learn with children, but also to learn with my colleagues and develop opportunities for us to work in partnership, share ideas and continue to strengthen our pedagogies to the benefit of our community. 

My initial interaction with Bambini could be seen from the outside as by chance, but I saw this with great meaning. My evident connection with the environment and the community in this space fell into place within moments of walking through the ingresso, as if a sign that a partnership with this strong and driven community was not just an option, but a path that was intended to be followed. As I devote more hours and days into developing my roots with Bambini I see a wealth of gratitude for the experience of peers, a drive for equity - for holistic respect and love for oneself as well as others and a determination to make a statement of the capabilities that the child has to offer as a competent and active member of society. Dedicating my time to this space, these people and the values of Bambini Creativi is a way to live my life to its highest potential, and I look forward to finding joy in my experiences with each person that I have the pleasure of spending my time with!

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ANISSA MILBURN

Elementary Lead Teacher, Curiosi (K-1st Grade), Pedagogical Leadership, Lead Mentor Teacher 

Ciao Amici! I am incredibly honored and grateful to be a part of our Bambini Creativi community for my fourth year! I cannot wait to see you all and start this year’s learning adventure! I know once again we will work together, in these times, to keep everyone safe and healthy and more importantly to preserve each amici’s amazing childhood. Your child and I will get to learn and develop while discovering, wondering, and unlocking all the curiosities that our world holds. I am excited to begin this unique journey together!

 

I was born and raised in Nebraska and grew up on Husker football! Being one of eight kids, there was never a dull moment at my house. My family was an inspiration and helped cultivated my desire to teach young children, with having siblings until I was in high school, a ton of nieces and nephews, and a sister who has a passion for educating. I decided to attend the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and I received my degree in Early Childhood Education. During my time in college, I fell in love with the Reggio Emilia Approach, because of its emphasis on the child and how each individual child is valued as a competent and capable human being! I also have a strong background in nature education and I continuously incorporate this learning into the classroom. Before Bambini, I have been an educator in many diverse settings, such as daycares, church nurseries, early education centers, laboratory schools, and nature preschools with children of all ages. At Bambini, I have now taught Medio, Grande, and this will be my second year in Curiosi. 

 

I moved to Kansas City after hearing about Bambini, seeing the incredible learning environment, and coming to observe the high-quality educational experience given to children each and every day. It is a phenomenal school and totally worth moving to Kansas City for! I have loved every minute of teaching at Bambini and am excited for this new year to begin!

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MARIE HOOD

Elementary, Lead Teacher (Cercativi) 

I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Marie Hood, I am originally from England but moved to Kansas around 17 years ago to go to the University of Friends, in Wichita KS . I had visited Kansas as camp counselor, while in college during the summer, and I decided that I wanted to experience life in here in America on a more permanent basis.  I have degrees in both Elementary Education and in Marriage and Family Therapy. I have worked with children all of my adult  life!  I have experience as a teacher, as a therapist, and in childcare. My last job was at a school for children with special rights. 

 

I have 6 children of my own, ranging in age from 9 months to 17 years. They keep me busy!

 

I love animals and nature and spend a lot of time with my children exploring the trails around my home. 

 

I am very excited to be working at Bambini Creativi, I have really enjoyed getting to know the children over the last few weeks. I have been learning a lot from Ms. Lindsay about the way the classroom is run and about the special learning opportunities offered by Bambini. I feel blessed to be a part of the school and a part of your child's journey. I am looking forward to getting to know all of you over the next year. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, concerns, or just to chat. 

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LESLIE MENENDEZ

Healthy Living Specialist

Hola amigos! My name is Leslie Menendez and I will be the Healthy Living Specialist at Bambini Creativi this year!

Just a little about me...I was born in Guatemala but moved to the US 25 years ago. I first lived in California and then we moved to Kansas. I have two sons Chris, who is 18 years old, and Tony, who is 16 years old. They keep me busy! We try to spend as much time together as possible because family is something we value. I also enjoy spending a lot of time with my nieces and nephews. Family is so important to me!

My past work included working in Early Years Educational Centers for more than 4 years. In my work, I hav been able to share my passion for cooking! I also dream of having my own food truck with my family one day! I really enjoy cooking together with my family and my favorite thing to make is enchiladas, taquitos dorados, arroz, and mainly Mexican food. Yes, I am Guatemalan and love cooking Mexican food! 

In my quest to return to the work I love, cooking, and with Bambini Creativi seeking a new Healthy Living Specialist, I was excited to learn about the opportunity to share my gifts and passion with their student community. Ms. Alessa was the one to introduce me to Ms. B! When I interviewed at the school and went there for the first time, I knew it was a special place for me to be and work.

I am excited and looking forward to work at Bambini Creativi as the Healthy Living Specialist. I am thrilled to share with the amici my love for food! As a Latina, I have learned to express through foods, and cooking and preparing meals for other's is a special gift I hope to share! I am excited to start this new journey, and I look forward to meeting all of you!

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LINDSAY DICKERSON

Infant & Toddler Playgroup Coordinator, Educational Support

The beauty of human nature has always fascinated me. The complexities of the human condition are so involved, and seeing the evolution of these things in young children helps me to understand further what it truly means to be human. My interest in development began by researching my neurology. I am a cancer survivor, 13 years strong- Whoop! Whoop!, and during that time, I have become fascinated with the facets and functions of the brain. That, paired with my love for teaching, led me down a path of supporting the cognitive explorations of children with special rights. I earned my degree from K-State in 2012 in K-12, SPED, and ESL. During my journey at college, I focused on studying strategies, methods, and philosophies that support educating children who experience learning differently. I was also fascinated with helping students who require different inputs to be inspired to discover the world around them.

Throughout my time in college, I worked for the state by serving families with children who have special rights. After I graduated, I moved to KC and began working as a cognitive coach at Brain Balance and later developed brain research-based curricula for children with severe autism. While working there, I was told about Bambini and called that same day. After a long and inspiring conversation with Ms. B, I decided that Bambini was the place that I needed to be, the place where my heart longed to be. I left my job and came to Bambini for an interview. Since there were no jobs available, I began to volunteer and showed up as often as possible. Later that year, I started as a summer camp lead teacher. Now, seven years later, I am still filled with inspiration every single day that I walk through the front door.

Bambini is a sanctuary for children, and I have dedicated my life to serving that purpose. I believe wholeheartedly in our values and mission. I have gained an interest in sharing Bambini Creativi's educational model and strategies with other educators and students who are interested in learning more about our pedagogical practices and the Reggio Approach to early learning. Bambini has embarked on a very exciting journey to become an IB school. IB has enriched our curriculum, culture, and community in ways that are meaningful, powerful, and limitless. IB has been a phenomenal enrichment to what we are already doing and provides amazing opportunities for us to support the international mindedness of our learners and ourselves. It also allows us to continue to increase the academic rigor of our program at the elementary level by providing opportunities for students to gain academic and scientific skills. The scope of relevant concepts deepens the why behind what we learn while increasing the range for acquiring knowledge and skills for future success and inquiry. This year, I will be teaching our upper elementary class and I am beyond honored to be working with our students as we continue our learning journey together.

Bambini is a unique community in which we can all come together with all of our differences. We get to learn from one another and find strength and unity in each other as we grow and learn through life. I am honored and humbled for the opportunity to be apart of this community for yet, another beautiful year!